I have found while teaching the 2008 National Electrical Code (NEC) that the electrical industry has mixed feelings concerning the changes that pertain to the installation of receptacles. The changes and revisions in the 2008 NEC and the impact they may have on installing receptacles in residential, commercial and industrial locations are somewhat controversial. So I leave it up to the installer and user to form an opinion of the changes for receptacle outlets in the 2008 NEC.

AFCI protection

An arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) must be installed on all 120-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-amp branch circuits supplying outlets in family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, or similar rooms or areas as outlined in 210.12.

The requirement in Exception 1 to 210.12 recognizes an installation where rigid metal conduit (RMC); intermediate metal conduit (IMC); and electrical metallic tubing (EMT) or steel armored cable, Type AC, meeting the requirements of 250.118, can be used with metal outlet and junction boxes, enclosing that portion of the branch-circuit run between the overcurrent device in the panelboard and the first outlet served. Such an installation allows a combination AFCI to be located at the first outlet and provide protection for the remaining portion of the circuit.

Exception 2 to 210.12 permits a branch-circuit for a fire alarm system that is installed and complies with the provisions of 760.41(B) and 760.121(B) to be run in RMC, IMC, EMT or steel armored cable and Type AC that meets 250.118. AFCI protection can be omitted for these circuits if metal outlets and junction boxes are used with the mentioned wiring methods to enclose circuit conductors.

GFCI protection

Installers must take notice to the exceptions to 210.8(A)(2) and (5) in the 2005 NEC that permitted a single or duplex receptacle for cord- and plug-connecting two appliances in a dedicated space where each appliance was not considered readily accessible to personnel. The requirement to exempt a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protective system on these outlets for the protection of personnel has been deleted.

GFCIs in kitchens

This revision, as outlined in 210.8(B)(2), demands all 125-volt, 15- and 20-amp receptacles installed in a kitchen that is not in a dwelling be GFCI-protected. For example, an office break room with a sink and permanent cooking facilities falls under the definition of a kitchen per Article 100; therefore, GFCI protection is required. These break rooms or areas have the same shock-hazard potential, and these receptacles need additional protection for users. The words “commercial and institutional” have been deleted, so this section applies to all other nondwelling kitchens, regardless of the type of faculty.

Under the same title head, 210.8(B)(4) has been revised to require GFCI protection on all receptacles (as mentioned above) installed outdoors rather than just those in public spaces. Electricians beware! Exception 2 to Article 210.8(B)(4) was added to exempt those receptacles used in industrial establishments only where the conditions of maintenance and supervision ensure only qualified personnel are involved, and that is limited to use with equipment qualified under assured equipment-grounding conductor programs specified in Article 590.6(B)(2).

Countertop receptacles

The revision to 210.52(C) clarifies that where a range, counter-mounted cooking unit or sink is installed in either an island or a peninsular countertop so the width of the space behind these units is 12 inches or less, the countertop is considered to be divided into separate countertop spaces. Therefore, such space must comply with 210.52(C).

Outdoor receptacles

New 210.52(E)(1) through (3) has been added for the purpose of usability and governs a receptacle installed on a porch, deck or balcony where the outlet is accessible from inside the home. A new exception to 210.52(E)(3) eliminates the need to install a receptacle on a balcony, deck or porch consisting of a usable space of less than 20 square feet.

Tamper-resistant receptacles

A new 406.11 has been added that requires all 125-volt, 15- and 20-amp receptacles installed in dwelling units (as specified in 210.52) to be of the tamper-resistant design. The concern is about the increasing threat of children inserting metal objects into the receptacle openings and getting burned or receiving a serious or fatal electrical shock. Installers, watch out: overlooking this change when wiring a new home could be costly.

Receptacles in show windows

Show-window receptacles must be placed at a height not greater than 18 inches above the top of the show window so easy access is provided and the use of extension cords is limited.

Articles concerning receptacles in new homes have been drastically revised. A review and careful application of rules is necessary before installation.

STALLCUP is the CEO of Grayboy Inc., which develops and authors publications for the electrical industry and specializes in classroom training on the NEC and OSHA, as well as other standards. Contact him at 817.581.2206.